How the Peace Corps Embraced Cloud for Talent Management

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In the final weeks of the 1960 Presidential campaign, then Senator John F. Kennedy spoke to a group of students at the University of Michigan about commitment to public service. The speech foreshadowed the launch of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, an organization whose mission is to promote world peace and friendship.

Like any institution that has lasted more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has had to evolve, reinvent and transform in ways to make it more accessible. Today it is doing just that with cloud. IBM announced that the Peace Corps is implementing new cloud-based capabilities from IBM to recruit applicants and fill volunteer openings worldwide.

During the Peace Corps’ history, nearly 220,000 Americans have served as volunteers in 140 countries, tackling pressing needs in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy.

The fulfilling work has been a beacon to people across America for years, and the organization continues to manage increasing numbers of applicants annually. In fact, just yesterday, the Peace Corps announced that it has received the highest number of applications in 40 years, increasing 32 percent over the last year.

Why has the Peace Corps succeeded? It’s simple really….engagement. From its early days, it has always tapped the desire in all of us to love what we do and believe that what we are doing has real-world impact.

Engagement in today’s world where we are immersed in petabytes and petabytes of data, social media, mobile apps, etc., is daunting to say the least. In the world of recruiting, where an organization such as the Peace Corps is looking for the best and brightest where compensation is about the experience and not a paycheck, aligning engagement with the needs of the 21st century workforce is much different than in previous decades.

According to an annual survey of undergraduates by employer-branding consultancy Universum, student interest in working for the federal government has declined over the last four years. Of roughly 46,000 undergraduates polled in late 2013 and early 2014, just 2.4 percent of engineering students and .9 percent of business students listed only government employers as their ideal places to work.  A new approach to recruiting could help change that trend.

IBM is helping the Peace Corps boost and enhance efforts that focus on engaging, recruiting and selecting the best candidates.  While so much of cloud is focused on cost savings and infrastructure, the table stakes for cloud, the real game changer is using cloud to transform how work gets done in innovative ways.  Cloud can help the Peace Corps provide applicants with the latest technologies giving candidates more visibility and involvement in the hiring process.

With cloud, they can increase transparency for applicants and make it easier to add social and mobile tools to better engage volunteers throughout the recruiting process. At the same time, using a hybrid cloud approach, they will have the ability to easily integrate the new Software as a Service talent platform with applications that run internally at the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is leading the way in how federal agencies embrace new, proactive approaches in engaging potential candidates who seek to commit themselves to public service. As Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps’ first director said in 2002, “Never miss a chance to make the world a better place, and recognize that every day brings a new chance, a chance to connect with others, a chance to grow, a chance to learn, a chance to teach, a chance to make a difference, a chance to change at least one person’s world, and a chance to serve!”

Global Program Manager, Cloud Communications; Managing Editor, IBM THINK Blog

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